Spring Produce: Asparagus
Asparagus can be found as far back as the first century…..a long time ago. As with most vegetables, the first asparagus was discovered in the wild. Wild asparagus has this shoots - thinner than a pencil, much different than the asparagus when have grown to love now.
We are used to seeing green asparagus with slightly purple tinted spears, but you can also find white and purple asparagus.
Asparagus is low in calories and packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Here are some benefits of eating asparagus:
1. Helps with weight loss. Not only is asparagus low in fat and calories but it contains soluble and insoluble fiber. The body digests fiber slowly so it will keep you feeling full in between meals.
2. Natural diuretic. Asparagus contains high levels of the amino acid asparagine which helps flush excess fluid and salt from the body.
3. Full of antioxidants. Purple asparagus, in particular, is loaded up with anthocyanins, which give fruits and vegetables their red, blue, and purple hues. These antioxidants can help your body fight off damaging free radicals.
4. Loaded with Vitamin E. Vitamin E helps with strengthening your immune systems and protects your body against free radicals. Add a little oil when cooking with asparagus - the body absorbs vitamin E better if it’s eating with some fat.
5. Eases a hangover. Studies have suggested that the minerals and amino acids in asparagus may help ease hangovers and protect liver cells from toxins in alcohol.
6. Rich in folic acid. Four asparagus spears contain 22% of your recommended daily allowance of folic acid.
7. Lots of Vitamin K. Vitamin K is great for your bone health, not just calcium. Vitamin k can actually help your body absorb calcium.
Look for bright green purplish, fresh-looking spears with compact tips. Partially open or wilted tips are signs of aging asparagus - LEAVE THEM THERE. The size of the asparagus does not relate to the quality but stalks should be about 1/2 inch.
Darker-colored asparagus are more nutrient dense. Asparagus should be refrigerated or standing in water or ice to keep cool.
Pesticides are not used on commercial organic asparagus so you can bypass the organic asparagus in the stores.
Asparagus should be used as soon as possible after purchase. If you are not going to use the right away, you can do two things:
Store the asparagus upright in a glass mason jar in two inches of water at the bottom and cover with a plastic bag.
Wrap in a moist paper towel around the stem ends and store in the crisper.
The asparagus will keep for up to four or five days when stored properly.
Before cooking the asparagus remove the fibrous stalk end which can be done a couple of ways:
Snap of the ends of the asparagus by holding the stalk and bend the asparagus until the end snaps. Once you have one snapped you can line up the remaining asparagus and cut the ends.
You can also trim down the fibrous stalk if you would like to use the asparagus whole.
Save the stalks to use for making stock later.
Asparagus can be steamed, roasted, or sautéed. Chop up some asparagus and add to stir-fried dishes or soups. They can also be pickled.
FUN FACT: Asparagus can cause some people to urine to have a bad smell. That is normal when eating asparagus. Asparagus has a sulfur compound that is converted during digestion that causes the order.
Research says between 22%-50% of people report that they have pungent urine after eating asparagus. But only about one-quarter of the population appears to have the special gene that allows them to smell those compounds.
So the issue isn't whether or not your pee is smelly; it's whether you're able to smell it. If you smell a funny fragrance in your urine after you eat asparagus, you're not only normal, you have a good nose.
Check out my FREE Spring Produce for more spring goodies.